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Nat Cell Biol. 2013 Apr;15(4):338-44. doi: 10.1038/ncb2717.

Cancer stem cells: the challenges ahead.

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Laboratory for Experimental Oncology and Radiobiology, Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been proposed as the driving force of tumorigenesis and the seeds of metastases. However, their existence and role remain a topic of intense debate. Recently, the identification of CSCs in endogenously developing mouse tumours has provided further support for this concept. Here I discuss the challenges in identifying CSCs, their dependency on a supportive niche and their role in metastasis, and propose that stemness is a flexible — rather than fixed — quality of tumour cells that can be lost and gained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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